Do any Republicans really believe what they’re telling the SCOTUS now about Obamacare?

Posted by admin | Posted in Politics | Posted on 31-01-2015-05-2008

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Paul Ryan with nose extended like Pinocchio

The standard line from Republicans now that the Supreme Court has decided to hear the challenge to Obamacare subsidies in King v. Burwell is that, of course, they all knew that Congress meant to exclude millions of people from getting federal subsidies to purchase their insurance. They insist, in propping up the ridiculous case, that Congress was using the stick of withholding subsidies on the federal exchange to make states establish their own. This is critical to the plaintiffs’ case, which is based on the presumption that Congress really meant for the Affordable Care Act not to be affordable for millions of people.

The problem with this newfound orthodoxy is that none of them seemed to notice back when the law was passed or as it was being implemented that this was the case. In fact, they all seemed to accept the exact opposite interpretation—subsidies would be available on both the state and federal exchanges.

An August 2013 letter to then-Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shows how Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made this exact shift. Back then, Ryan declared these subsidies would cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion—an amount only possible if they were available nationally, not just in the 15 state-run exchanges in place at the time.

This acknowledgment of the Affordable Care Act tax credits for low- and middle-income households in every state contradicts a brief Ryan and 14 other GOP lawmakers filed to the Supreme Court last month. […]

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.) is another of the 15 Republican lawmakers whose brief to the Supreme Court declares subsidies were only meant for state-run exchanges. But in 2011, Barrasso had a different point of view, Salon reported Tuesday.

At a press conference touting legislation that would have allowed states to opt out of Affordable Care Act insurance regulations, Barrasso stated the subsidies in question would be provided no matter what a state did. Taxpayers are “not going to give up that right to have an opportunity to use that money,” he said.

That same year, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who was chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a report titled “Uncovering the True Impact of the Obamacare Tax Credits.” In the footnotes of that report, he and his staff adopted the argument that Obamacare defenders now use to defend the legality of sending subsidies to all eligible recipients, regardless of what exchange they shop on. […]

Also in 2011, Republicans unanimously supported a bill using subsidy funding to pay for a change in tax law. Doing so explicitly assumed those tax credits were national, as The New Republic reported last week.

Huffington Post tried to get a comment from Ryan’s spokesperson, Brendan Buck, about the glaring inconsistency, but he refused to address it, saying instead that the “increasingly half-baked ‘evidence’ that defenders of the law are citing is revealing quite a sense of rising panic that Obamacare is in real trouble.” Not that one should expect substance from Ryan or his staff. But the reality is—as usual with Republicans—that they have no problem at all with making shit up. Even if it is diametrically opposed to the shit they made up previously.

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